So why Instagram?
If you are a hotel without an Instagram account, where have you been? It is time to embrace the social storm and turn it to your advantage with our top tips.
Instagram is a social networking app made for sharing photos and videos from a smartphone. Its blend of attractive imagery and snappy captions has made it a feature of life for most millennials. 51% of users say they access the platform daily, with 35% saying they access it multiple times a day. But, as their attention must be contested by all the Instagram accounts a user follows, you must be smart to gain any of it…
Know Your Followers.
Your Instagram account needs to get your customer’s attention, then draw them down the rabbit hole and into your world. If your content is as compelling as it ought to be, that’s an idle scroll and the rest is history… but first, it is essential that the look, tone, and feel of your account speak to them.
Messaging and captions are integral to your audience. Still, the visual aspects of your account resonate first - people won’t bother to read your captions if your images don’t look good. It’s a wall, so think of it this way; if it isn’t good enough to frame and hang in the hotel, it isn’t good enough for your Gram. Instagram users have become habitual ‘scrollers’ due to the saturation of imagery on their walls; your content needs to stop them in their tracks.
Be Consistent with Colour.
Start your account with the building blocks: a primary colour scheme. A consistent palette makes your images and videos look like a curated collection, rather than a mishmash of jarring imagery.
Similar lighting conditions can mean a lot too, or a chosen brand filter which will keep your grid consistent in style and colour. The most liked and most used filter in the world is Clarendon - it highlights and brightens while adding subtle depth and saturation to any photo. Juno, Gingham, and Lark are close contenders. Have a play with the options - you might stumble on the next great post.
You have probably visited another account before and thought – wow, this looks amazing. The chances are nothing it’s not by accident.
The most popular accounts follow a theme or aesthetic:
• The colours are consistent
• The photos are grouped in a category
• The feel is the same
In the same sense that you want to have a consistent colour scheme, you also need to choose a theme. This will help you to nurture hashtags and build followers.
Choose something you are passionate about: the ethos of your hotel, your emphasis on wellness, your food, or your location - whatever speaks to you and your brand. It will help you find some ‘Insta inspo. Also check out a few trail-blazing accounts to spark your inspiration. Take their lead.
Think Outside The Grid (But Also In It)
When establishing a brand on Instagram, you need to consider a lot more than your single post - you need to think of how the grid is looking as well. Play around with your image sequence to make sure everything looks fluid and fabulous.
TIP: Planoly is a free app that lets you drag and drop the layout of up to 30 posts per month.
Splitting photos into tiles for Instagram can also make a huge impact. You may have already seen the spreads, where a single image takes up six or even nine tiles on a grid. You can get even more creative by creating tiles that have individual images, then another image or illustration overlaid, across that tile and the next. This creates a cohesive, dynamic wall whilst preserving the stand-alone appeal of individual posts.
Editing Is Everything
Taking professional-looking pictures with your smartphone is common practice these days, but that does not mean you can cut out the most crucial step— the editing process.
Occasionally we all get a happy stroke of luck, and sometimes a photo come outs perfectly, looking Instagram-ready. But that is the exception, not the rule.
The good news is that plenty of apps will help with your editing. You can also get creative and create composite images, made by merging multiple images into a single photo. They are imaginative and very attention-grabbing when someone is scrolling through Instagram.
Remember to always think about anatomy, angles, composition, and backgrounds.
Grow Your Followers with Stories
Stories supplement the contents of your Instagram feed with a glimpse ‘behind the scenes’ and behind the confines of the professional portfolio in your grid.
Stories are a fantastic medium for connecting informally and interactively. You will also get more recognition from your existing followers – your face will be the first thing they see as they log into Instagram.
You can use stories to easily improve your marketing… create polls, ask questions, get them to swipe up to your website, and much more. You can also tag companies to let them know you are talking about them.
Hashtag research can, and should, take a fair amount of time. Professional influencers may take up to an hour— you get what you put in here.
Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post, and experts recommend you use them all. What do you have to lose? Each hashtag is an opportunity to attract a new follower, and that’s exciting (be aware, there's no proven formula, it's about experimenting and seeing what works for your business).
Heads up: Anything more than this will render every single one of your hashtags invalid.
As you start to type in a hashtag, Instagram will make suggestions. Alternatively, search for your topic, (e.g. #Edinburgh) and you’ll be able to see some of the most popular tags. Some people say that you should look at the size of the hashtag and decide this way, but top influencers recommend that you don’t discount big hashtags on this basis.
You can learn from the engagement you received from old posts. Think about what you see in the images you are uploading and where you want the images to appear. This helps you pick the right hashtags. The aim is to find hashtags that are accessible to us all.
Many people hide hashtags - they aren’t the prettiest, easiest things to read – and place them beneath three dots in the caption, or as the first comment to their post. This is just a personal preference and won’t affect the photo’s performance.
Pull It All Together.
If you pull all these elements together, you will end up with a branded Instagram account that hits the mark online. Once you have created a consistent theme that encapsulates your brand’s essence, users will be clear on your message and brand within seconds. Positive impressions are instantaneous and can make way for a meaningful affiliation for your brand for someone who is a fit for you. It’s that powerful.
Whether it's reaching new customers, building a passionate community of advocates or improving customer service, a strong social media presence should always be part of your marketing services.